A platform for better communication

Loretta Ho, Urban Nomads, 17/8/2015, Reflection

Nam Cheong Estate, a public housing estate, is located less than 1km away from the Tung Chau Street flyover. This is also where the office of Mr. Wai Woon-Nam, a district councilor locate. Wai serves Sham Shui Po neighourhood for more than 20 years. We had a long chat with him.

He analysed the complexity of the issue of homelessness. It involves housing issues, family problems, gamblings, drugs, the structure of the labour force, etc. The structure is so complex. Could we start with something small? I just wonder if better communication could increase understanding of different parties, and whether the stakeholders could have empathy among each other?

Wai set up a platform called “Nam Cheong Homelessness Problem Concern Group” (南昌露宿者問題關注組). Some residents nearby do not like the homeless people and make complaints to Wai. Wai explains to the residents,

“Unlike light poles and planters, when you remove them, they’re gone. But homeless people are human beings, they will move from Point A to Point B when you drive them away.”

Most of the time, residents talked to Wai, but sometimes, if the residents zsare too angry, they go directly to the homeless people. It normally start with a chat, but later on it ends up with a quarrel.

Wai attempts linking residents with the government officials, the government officials ends up shouldering off the responsibilities by inviting them to different government departments.

Wai observes that the down side of charity distributing lunch boxes. After finishing the meal, homeless people do don’t throw the rubbish properly, and it creates a hygiene problem. But when Wai talks to the charity, they would blame the district counsellor: “For sure, you don’t like the homeless people because they are not voters!” The ending of the conversation does not lead to a constructive solution.

When people shut down their ears and try to blame others without a process of sensible discussion, a problem would still remain the same, or improve slowly, very slowly.

Can we create a platform that could encourage all the stakeholders for sharing about their views, worries, concern, etc, and put it on the table for discussion? Is it possible to create a non-judgemental, empathetic, inclusive and comfortable platform allow people to communicate.

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